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Around The NFC West - Post-Draft

Posted May 29, 2014

Offseason moves only increase talk division is NFL's best

Calais Campbell (93) and the rest of the Cardinals know the Seahawks are the team to beat in the NFC West.

The frenetic part of free agency has passed, as has the NFL draft. For the most part, the major personnel moves are finished and each team’s roster is beginning to take shape. Here is a look at the offseason changes made by the Cardinals’ NFC West foes:

SEATTLE SEAHAWKS

2013 record: 13-3 (won Super Bowl)

Notable additions: QB Terrelle Pryor, WR Paul Richardson, OT Justin Britt, DE Cassius Marsh, WR Kevin Norwood, LB Kevin Pierre-Louis.

Notable departures: WR Golden Tate, CB Brandon Browner, CB Walter Thurmond, DE Red Bryant, DE Chris Clemons, DT Clinton McDonald, OT Paul McQuistan, OT Breno Giacomini.

Analysis: Since the Seahawks are the defending Super Bowl champions, they didn’t need to go out and do much this offseason. Their biggest moves were locking up star cornerback Richard Sherman and star safety Earl Thomas to multi-year contract extensions, fortifying the secondary for the foreseeable future. Most of the main cogs are back on offense, including quarterback Russell Wilson, running back Marshawn Lynch and wide receivers Percy Harvin and Sidney Rice. Richardson, a second-round pick, will be counted on to help replace Tate’s production. Seattle did lose some key depth pieces on the defense, which could be a factor if injuries surface. Ultimately, while the Seahawks may have had the least-splashy offseason in the division, they had the fewest holes to fill.

SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS

2013 record: 12-4 (lost in NFC championship game)

Notable additions: S Antoine Bethea, WR Stevie Johnson, S Jimmie Ward, QB Blaine Gabbert, OT Jonathan Martin, WR Brandon Lloyd, CB Chris Cook, RB Carlos Hyde, C Marcus Martin, LB Chris Borland, WR Bruce Ellington, DE Aaron Lynch.

Notable departures: S Donte Whitner, CB Tarell Brown, WR Mario Manningham, RB Anthony Dixon, QB Colt McCoy, C Jonathan Goodwin, CB Carlos Rogers.

Analysis: The 49ers have one more season of quarterback Colin Kaepernick on a cheap contract, which has afforded them the flexibility to re-sign wide receiver Anquan Boldin and kicker Phil Dawson, trade for Johnson and add Bethea in free agency. The 49ers lost in the Super Bowl two seasons ago and the NFC championship game last year and have loaded up for another title run. Whitner is the biggest loss, but Bethea and first-round pick Ward can likely fill his void. Linebacker NaVorro Bowman is still on the team, but is out indefinitely with the knee injury he suffered in last year’s playoffs, and his absence may be the biggest hurdle. The 49ers made 12 selections in the draft, and while most are not expected to contribute greatly in 2014, it’s a way to replenish for the future as cap concerns come to the forefront after this season.

ST. LOUIS RAMS

2013 record: 7-9 (missed playoffs)

Notable additions: OT Greg Robinson, DT Aaron Donald, WR Kenny Britt, DE Alex Carrington, CB Lamarcus Joyner, RB Tre Mason, DE Michael Sam, QB Shaun Hill.

Notable departures: CB Cortland Finnegan, QB Kellen Clemens, OG Chris Williams, OG Shelley Smith, OG Harvey Dahl.

Analysis:  While St. Louis was mostly quiet in free agency, it was lauded for choosing Robinson and Donald in the first round of the draft. Donald will join Robert Quinn, Michael Brockers and Chris Long on a defensive line which will be among the NFL’s best. It looked as if impact offensive lineman Rodger Saffold was departing for Oakland in free agency, but he failed his physical there and was subsequently re-signed by the Rams. Saffold is expected to join Jake Long and Robinson to anchor what should be a pretty good offensive line. Much of the Rams’ fortunes will come down to the play of quarterback Sam Bradford, but the team seems to have upgraded in the trenches, which should make it a formidable opponent next season.

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